A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

That said, my father did have tremendous passion for his surroundings, the environment, the soils and the animals. This passion he did pass on, and maybe this is the most important lesson I learnt from him before he died. A farm is nothing without healthy soils and an environment rich in wildlife.Clover field In some way I think not being bogged down with someone else's views and taking my own, somewhat idealistic and naïve route into farming, has led me towards a more experimental, and ultimately more sustainable, approach to food production.
In order to balance the needs of the livestock and that of wildlife, last year we sowed the grasslands with a mix of clovers, herbs and more traditional grasses. Once established it was a mass of flowers providing tremendous habitat for insect and birds, the clovers naturally setting nitrogen for the soils, and once baled a high quality winter feed.
Harvesting cropArable farming doesn't have to be bad for wildlife either. The conventional approach is to desiccate the crop prior to harvest, killing the crop and any arable weeds with sprays, providing a uniform platform to combine and ease of baling straw. I suppose understandable considering the demands of the grain merchant and our unpredictable weather, but not so great for the resident wildlife. At Predannack, we simply combined our grain slightly later than usual. What remained after harvest was a tremendous cover of arable weeds which, once open to the light, flourished throughout the autumn, providing the most outstanding wildlife habitat whilst also nourishing and protecting the soils. Skylark

Alongside a decent crop of grain and straw, I am perhaps more proud of the huge flocks of skylarks that spent the winter on these fields, way over a hundred birds could be seen at any time, flocks of them rolling over and over as you walked the fields.

Wildlife is thriving at Predannack, the animals are healthy and we are producing good food. Not bad for a young farmer who was too daft to listen to his father.

Published: Mar 2015
Author: William Watson ( Farmer at Teneriffe and Predannack Farms on the Lizard)